Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
Legends Names President of Global Merchandise
Legends has hired Kirta Carroll as president of the company’s global merchandise division. Carroll joins Legends after more than a decade at Foot Locker and will lead a merchandise division that is an integrated vertical solution operating brick-and-mortar, pop-ups, e-commerce, and in-venue retail experiences for brands such as the NFL, MLB, PGA, NASCAR, UFC, Activision Blizzard and global tent-pole events including Super Bowl LVI, 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2016 Olympics. In the last 12 months, the division has brought in more than 20 new clients, including PGA, PFL, Cirque du Soleil, Madison Square Garden, Indiana University, Century 21 and set merchandise per cap and sales records for 2022 Indianapolis 500, PGA Championship, Super Bowl LVI, UFC International Fight Week and MLB at Field of Dreams.
Wasserman Hires Execs for Branding and Events
Talent agency Wasserman has hired Marisela Rodriguez as VP, brand creation & licensing and Todd Palmerton as VP, event creation & management. Rodriguez will oversee the consumer product and brand licensing strategies, while Palmerton will focus on ideating, developing, launching, and managing live events on behalf of Wasserman’s sports clients and music artists globally. Prior to Wasserman, Rodriguez worked for Major League Baseball, where she served as director of hard goods, responsible for conceptualizing product line development, brand extensions and business strategy for all 30 teams. Palmerton most recently worked at Live Nation, where he was VP of business development, responsible for expanding platforms and monetary streams for music festivals and assisting with international live distribution models.
BSE Global Adds EVP Global Partnerships, SVP of Ticketing and Premium Seating
BSE Global has named Catherine Carlson as executive vice president of global partnerships and Kenny Koperda as senior vice president of ticketing & premium seating. Carlson will oversee the servicing and growth of the company’s current marketing partnerships, while leading efforts to drive revenue through new business alliances and establishing the long-term partnership strategy for the organization. She joins the organization after three years as SVP of revenue and strategy with the Philadelphia Eagles. Korperda will oversee premium development and hospitality, membership sales & service, and group sales departments for BSE Global, parent company of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. Koperda comes to Brooklyn after six years with the New York Mets, where he most recently served as the VP of ticket sales & services, providing strategic direction and oversight of all ticketing verticals.
Fanatics Announces CMO of Betting & Gaming Division
Fanatics has brought on Jason White as chief marketing officer of Fanatics Betting & Gaming (FBG), the company’s online sports betting and iGaming division. In his new role, White will lead the strategy and execution across the marketing, advertising and content verticals within FBG as the company prepares for its formal entrance into the rapidly expanding gambling and gaming industry. He joins Fanatics from Paramount’s MTV Entertainment, where he served as chief marketing officer and oversaw marketing, creative and social initiatives across the company’s portfolio of brands.
Woods and McIlroy Venture TMRW Sports Staffs Up With Seven Hires
TMRW Sports, a company founded by Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and CEO Mike McCarley to use technology in building progressive approaches to sports, media and entertainment, has announced a first wave of hires. They are as follows: Matthew Levine, SVP, business operations; Tom Veit, SVP, venue and events; Christopher Murvin, general counsel; Joey Brander, VP, corporate development; Katie Fitzpatrick, VP and CFO; Joanne Chiang, director of operations; David Schaefer, SVP, communications.
XFL Brings on SVP for Ticket Sales
Jason Gonella has joined the XFL as senior vice president, ticket sales. Gonella will lead the planning and development of the XFL’s ticket sales, services, and operations for the league and each of the eight-team markets. Gonella will develop and oversee a full suite of products, including season, group and individual game tickets, as well as lead pricing, packaging and retention strategies to drive revenue growth. He brings over 25 years of leadership experience in ticketing to the XFL, joining the league from Quickstrike Partners, a sales consultancy he founded and led as CEO, working with various sports and entertainment clients, including Gotham FC of the NWSL.
ESPN Promotes Four to Vice President
ESPN has promoted four women to prominent roles across the company. Bowen Dou will be VP, production, overseeing content creation for ESPN’s Chinese partner Tencent. Under her leadership, ESPN has delivered high quality NBA content as well as other major international sports for Chinese fans. Kate Jackson also rises to VP, production, with a portfolio that includes Formula One, the Special Olympics, the Heisman Trophy Presentation, the NCAA Women’s Tournament & Final Four and the ESPYs. A third new VP, production, Pat Lowry, has been at the company for two decades, and currently leads women’s college basketball coverage, including the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, and oversees event production for Longhorn Network and the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship. Miranda Thorpe moves up to VP, Charlotte office & production management, where she provides strategic support to senior leaders for cross-unit transparency, business alignment and integration, priority setting and other leadership functions, sparking collaboration between ESPN and DMED, and oversees the production management team.
Euroleague Basketball Name New Leadership
EuroLeague icon Dejan Bodiroga has been named president and director of Euroleague Basketball. Bodiroga will focus on increasing the quality of the competition for clubs, players, fans, partners and all EB stakeholders. His strategy will focus on improving EB’s institutional relationships within the global basketball community, including the EuroLeague Players Association, the EuroLeague Head Coaches Board, the Union of Euroleague Basketball Officials, FIBA, domestic leagues, and other basketball-related institutions. Following his playing career, Bodiroga served as VP of the Serbian Basketball Federation and as president of the competition commission of FIBA Europe. At the same time, Marshall Glickman, G2 Strategic’s CEO and a long-time advisor to Euroleague, has been named acting CEO, director of its affiliated companies, and special advisor to Euroleague Properties. Additionally, he will have a seat on the board of Euroleague Ventures, a joint venture with IMG Media. Glickman will serve a transitional role and will assist shareholders in recruiting a permanent CEO.
USL Signs Presenting Partner for Playoffs
The United Soccer League says Hisense USA, the Official Television of the USL, will be the presenting partner of the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs and the 2022 USL League One Playoffs. As presenting partner, Hisense will launch a sweepstakes for fans via USL channels, with details to be announced soon. The USL Championship regular season concludes with a 12-match slate on Oct. 15. The top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs, presented by Hisense. The 2022 USL League One Playoffs start the same day and also feature a single-elimination format.
Cerebro Sports Receives Backing From Mark Cuban
SportsTech company Cerebro Sports will expand operations after an investment by entrepreneur and NBA governor Mark Cuban. The company provides player performance analytics through a proprietary talent-evaluation platform, and it has signed agreements with multiple collegiate and NBA teams, as well as renowned sports talent agencies. Cerebro’s pre-seed fundraising round, led by Cuban, will help scale internal data operations, while allowing it to grow its institutional client base and prepare for the release of a consumer offering. A global player database will allow scouts and coaches to evaluate performances from games, tournaments and showcases across the world at all levels of competition, from high school to the NBA.
Guinness Inks a Multiyear Collaboration With Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will join forces with Guinness to get Americans to pledge more than 1 million service hours to support their communities through the Guinness Gives Back program. Burrow, who inspired millions in his 2019 Heisman Trophy speech, where he delivered an impactful message about poverty and food insecurity in his hometown in southeast Ohio, has pledged hours of his time to serve communities in need and will call on others to act. He’ll work with legendary quarterback Joe Montana, who has been aligned with the brand since 2020.
Aristocrat Gaming Hooks Up With the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium
Slot machine operator Aristocrat Gaming and the New England Patriots have agreed to a multiyear partnership making Aristocrat an Official Partner of the Patriots and Gillette Stadium. Aristocrat will have prominent signage throughout the stadium year-round, including in-stadium, on the concourse and in-game branding. Additional features will include in-game promotion and game-day activations. The news of this partnership follows Aristocrat Gaming’s recent announcement of an exclusive multiyear slot machine licensing agreement to build land-based NFL-themed slot machines.
AC Milan and eBay Link Up
AC Milan and eBay have formed a partnership that will allow the online auctioneer to become the Official Marketplace of the Rossoneri. The two organizations will join to open the AC Milan store on eBay.it, where Rossoneri fans will have access to an exclusive experience that allows them to purchase original products of their favorite team.
Josh Allen Launches Coffee Brand With PLB Sports & Entertainment
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen partnered with PLB Sports & Entertainment, the creators of Josh’s Jaqs Cereal, to launch a another Josh Allen retail product: JA’s 17 Blend Single Serve Coffee Pods. The medium roast coffee will be available exclusively at Wegmans in 10-count and 36 count boxes and online. In addition to JA’s 17 Blend, fans will be able to purchase limited edition Josh Allen coffee mugs in-store and online. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the coffee, like Josh’s Jaqs cereal, will benefit the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. JA’s 17 Blend is a single serve coffee pod compatible with a variety of available machines. The packaging features the star QB’s likeness and a coffee bean shaped football.
Fan Controlled Sports to Launch a Basketball League
Following its successful football offering, Fan Controlled Sports is launching Fan Controlled Hoops (FCH) in February 2023. A professional 4v4 basketball league, its games will take place in a single, high-tech studio arena (Pullman Yards in Atlanta) featuring a state-of-the-art LED court. It aims to combine the best of traditional sports, video games and web3 to create an entirely new category of sports entertainment. Games will stream live on Twitch and other media partner platforms, and fans will select team names, uniforms and logos, draft players, call plays in real-time, and engage with content, athletes, and celebrity influencers, including FCH brand ambassadors/owners Baron Davis and Dwight Howard.
The 2022 Sustainable Sport Index Benchmarking Report Lands
APTIM has released the second annual Sustainable Sport Index (SSI) Benchmarking Report, a first-of-its-kind survey and analysis of environmental and social sustainability in the sports industry. By aggregating the survey responses of prominent professional and collegiate sport teams and venues in North America, the report presents trends, best practices and common challenges of the industry. The report retained 75% of its 2021 participants and overall saw a 25% increase in participation. It collects performance metrics on topics including energy, waste, water, transportation, food and beverage, sponsorship, community engagement, and employee wellness. Unlike peer publications, the SSI Benchmarking Report does not offer a certification, ranking or award. Instead, it aims to provide support to venues and teams by sharing industry-specific best practices in sustainability and a snapshot of what peers have implemented. Among the findings, the 2022 report showed that 48% of participants saw an increase in sponsorship revenue when they adopted a sustainability program.
(This story has been updated in the third paragraph to add the information on Catherine Carlson.)